x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

A challenge to all-male sporting teams

When a woman can compete with and against the men, the playing field is level.

National Editorial

Sport is one of the last bastions of gender prejudice, where men – and the games that they play – are almost always treated more seriously than women. This is why the news that Canadian ice hockey player Shannon Szabados will play shoulder-to-shoulder with male athletes in the Southern Professional Hockey League comes as a pleasant surprise.

After earning her second consecutive gold medal as goaltender for the Canadian women’s Olympic hockey team in Sochi last month, the 27-year-old has signed a contract to join a men’s professional team, the Columbus Cottonmouths, in the US state of Georgia.

Szabados is one of the trail blazers in sport. Not only will she be the first female to play in the SPHL since its inception 10 years ago, she was also the first woman to play in the Western Hockey League and the Alberta Junior Hockey League in Canada.

Many women have proven themselves as champions in various sports, but few have been afforded the opportunity to join men’s teams – especially in such a rough-and-tumble sport as ice hockey. Will other professional sporting bodies follow the example and allow women to compete on a truly level playing field? Well, the puck is now in their court.